Toronto should change their name to the Toronto Annoying Raptors. The Los Angeles Lakers o/u on wins is 45.5. There is no team that would want to play the Raptors on a given night this season, can’t say the same about the Lakers.
In 2020-2021 the team only won 27 games. Last season, the Raptors won 48 thanks in part to the 4th overall pick – Scottie Barnes’ Rookie of the Year campaign. The Raptors won those 48 games with Fred VanVleet missing 17 games, Pascal Siakam missing 14 games, OG Anunoby missing 40 games, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent missing 10+ each. Without a healthy season, the team surpassed the 45.5 mark last season. This year, with the progression of Scottie Barnes and some more health, the Raptors look to surpass last season’s win total.
The Raptors swarming defense of 6’8ish guys who can switch everywhere creates a hell of a regular season matchup for opposing teams. The team’s identity is working hard on defense to make opponents uncomfortable so that on the offensive end, there is more room to experiment.
The biggest question for the group is will Coach Nick Nurse give the starters a break. Last season, the starting five all logged >35 minutes per game, which played a large part in them all missing extended time. Otto Porter Jr. signing as a free agent in the offseason adds a bit of bench depth, but it’s just another 6’8 player type in a room crowded with those. While the Raptors’ positionless basketball will create tough nights for other teams in the regular season, the formula might not be formidable in the postseason.
While there are plenty of players who handle the ball besides VanVleet, the lack of true guard depth opens up the door for potential mid-season acquisitions. Looking across the league, a few players to keep an eye on moving: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC), Mike Conley (UTA), Jordan Clarkson (UTA), Caris LeVert (CLE), Bogdan Bogdanovic (ATL), Dillon Brooks (MEM), Markelle Fultz (ORL), Terrance Ross (ORL), Will Barton (WAS), Josh Hart (POR). The question becomes how much is Toronto willing to give up to maximize the next two seasons compared to stacking assets to build around Scottie Barnes’ time table.
If Barnes continues to develop his offensive game and reinforces himself as a disruptor on the defensive end of the floor, the Raptors could find themselves amongst the largest powers of the Eastern Conference arms race. As a regular season team, the Raptors join the rest of the Atlantic division as ceiling chasers. The Raptors are much more likely to add three wins to last season’s total than to lose them.